I was honored to have been invited back to Iowa for the chance to speak with a Life Design class. These students were very kind, attentive and inquisitive. They delivered a better response than I could have ever hoped for. Thank you to everyone who took time to come hear me speak. My message can only be shared if people take time out of their schedules to come listen to me.
Fifty minutes flew by and left many details unsaid. I requested for anyone not having time to ask their question to please write me. I was grateful for the inquisitive minds that took time to follow-up. You see, when I hear questions like the ones asked, it always makes me put more thought into how I proceed through daily life. Becoming more aware of how I handle situations causes me to be more attentive of positive coping techniques. It also offers me more insight to questions and answers people may want to hear in the future. My goal is to educate others. Questions from students like these help me better achieve this goal. My success can be partially credited to all of you.
I received enough questions that I have decided to break this into two posts. This allows me to answer each question as fully as possible. Any longer than my usual 500 word article and I realize eyes start to glaze over and minds start to wander. Besides, students already have enough to read. So, Life Design (Fall 2012) here are answers to some of your thought-provoking questions.
How long do details stay in your mind? You said you can’t remember faces, but you remember things about people. For how long?
Besides not remembering pictures and faces, I have a great memory. When thinking back to your class, I still remember I saw five guys come in wearing ball caps. All but one removed them before class started. The girl in the front quarter of the room near the center had on a very pretty green shirt. After starting at the shoulder, the sleeves opened and then closed again half way down her upper arm. The material was light and flowing. In the back of the room about three aisles down on my right, there was a young man sleeping, or resting with his eyes closed, until I finished my conversation with the senses I had lost. I was hoping the young lady up top on my left wearing the pink shirt would come down and speak with me. I wanted to see what color her head band was. It was sequined with either dark blue or black. She had very pretty blond hair. I stated these detail during class except for pointing out the gentleman who did not remove his cap and the one sleeping. Other than that, ten days have passed and these identifying clues are as clear as the moment you were walking into the room.
Have you ever sat down and compared your life to that of another “face blindness” patient? If so, did you gain understanding from their perceptions?
I think it’s interesting talking to others who have prosopagnosia. Until I did this multiple times, I never quite understood the different degrees, a spectrum of sorts, of severity in face blindness. I’ve gained a lot listening to how other people handle various situations. Yet, my favorite conversations come from speaking to people who recently discovered they have prosopagnosia. One lady recently met me and wanted to talk more about this condition. Until she’d seen me on the Today show and then saw a special 60 Minutes, she never knew it was an actual condition. The relief she felt was obvious and immense. All those years of feeling and hearing comments made from others that she was “ditzy” or “not paying enough attention” suddenly washed away. I am fortunate because the Iowa Neurological Patient Registry gave me access to some great researchers who helped me not only put a name to what was going on, but also led me to ways I compensate for abilities I lack.
There is an amazing array of perceptions from both patients and others seeking information of face blindness. I learn something from both groups. They tell their story, and I share mine. Sharing information makes this community, as it does any other, stronger.
How often do you travel and tell your story?
Whenever asked, I’m prepared to head out and speak to groups. I have three basic speeches I am always prepared to deliver: 1) For a medical staff: Medicine Is More Than a Textbook: Finding a Person in Every Body 2) For prosopagnosia patients: Discovering Clues of Who People Are in a World Filled with Strangers 3) For the general public: The Lessons of Life: Finding Strength in Adversity.
Everything I have gone through was an amazing hands-on learning opportunity for me. It becomes even more worthwhile when I can share these lessons with others.
Do you ever see yourself moving back to Iowa some day?
I am a Navy wife. My husband’s career determines where we call home. We never know where we will be next. I enjoy this type of life. Exploring new places and creating new adventures has always been fun for us. Someday we will be able to settle down and live in one place without the thought of what our new address will be in a few years. I would love to go back to a city in Iowa some day. Our families are both there. It would be nice to be closer to them. However, I haven’t been in snow for six years now. I may change my answer about staying in Iowa if I were to visit in the winter.